The Little River Trail is a fairly easy trail culminating in a beautiful view of Little River.
Little River Trail is accessible off Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail. I am measuring Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail from the Corn Mill Shoals Access Area (parking area) off Cascade Lake Road. The Access Area features ample parking and a kiosk with a rather outdated map.
Directions to Corn Mill Shoals Access Area:
There are three ways to access the parking area: one from U.S. 276 in Cedar Mountain, N.C. and the other two from Crab Creek Road. The two from Crab Creek Road are DuPont/Staton Road and Cascade Lake Road. The former should be chosen by those wanting ease and speed; the latter should be chosen if you want to drive a slower gravel road with less ease and more scenery.
From Cedar Mountain, N.C.: Take U.S. Highway 276. Turn onto Cascade Lake Road. Drive 1.8 miles to Corn Mill Shoals Access Area on the left. There is a large parking area.
DuPont Road from Crab Creek Road: Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should one be coming from Hendersonville). Turn onto DuPont Road. Travel 1.2 miles. DuPont Road ends and Staton Road begins (i.e. DuPont Road becomes Staton Road—this change is due to the road crossing the county line between Henderson and Transylvania Counties). At 5.4 miles, turn left onto Cascade Lake Road. Travel .7 miles to Corn Mill Access Area on the right. This route is considered the primary route.
Cascade Lake Road from Crab Creek Road: Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should one be coming from Hendersonville). Turn onto Cascade Lake Road. Travel 1.2 miles. The road turns at a confusing junction with Hart Road. Hart Road is paved and goes to the right. Cascade Lake turns to gravel at this point and goes to the left. Remain on Cascade Lake Road. Travel 5 miles; this portion of the road is graveled. Note the nice waterfall at mile 3.0. At the 5 mile mark, the road turns into pavement. Travel .9 miles. Corn Mill Shoals Access Area is on the right. This route is the secondary route and takes significantly longer to travel. It is less than two vehicles wide most of the way, so take your time and be aware. I would not recommend this route except for the interesting features along the way (and, hey, I just like gravel roads), including Cascade Lake itself, lots of forest, and the waterfall mentioned above.
The emerald creek filled with algae and reflecting the green around it
photo by Bret James Stewart
Blaze Markings: unblazed
Length: approximately 1.2 miles one way; exactly 6178’; 2.4 miles there and back; exactly 12,356’ there and back; note this varies slightly from the length of 1.16 miles given by the Friends of DuPont Forest Trail Map (rev. 2008); also note that 3907’ of Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail must be hiked to access the trail (7814’ there and back); therefore, the total one way distance is 10,085’ for an effective total distance of 20,170’ or 3.8 miles there and back.
Difficulty: easy; due to length and slope (this is the official designation); as it is there and back, I would personally consider this trail to be in the “moderate” category due to the extended practical length and the change in elevation on the Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail portion of the hike.
This is a nice hike—not too difficult, long enough to let you know you’ve had a good hike, and it has the Little River and some interesting stream crossings.
There are ways to make this hike a partial loop by adding all or part of the Cedar Rock Trail and/or all of the Big Rock Trail. Please see the trail map mentioned above or the appropriate trails on this site to piece this together. I do recommend this as it gives you more “bang for the buck” by letting you see more beautiful scenery, especially as both Cedar Rock and Big Rock feature sections of trail that are rock faces.
I hiked this trail in July. It was hot and muggy, as the season warranted. This is a nice hike with a mostly-gravelled path that parallels the river toward the end in a peaceful pine grove. The following trail directions begin with the Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail to the junction with the Little River Trail and from there to the end.
The Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail portion:
Beginning at the edge of Cascade Lake Road:
At 134’, a creek crosses the trail just before a gate.
At 203’, there is a junction with Longside Trail to your left.
At 345’, a small creek tinkles down from the left to cross the trail.
At 563’, there is a junction with Big Rock Trail on the left.
At 2297’, the trail is damp from a (possibly wet-weather) spring. You can hear the Little River from this point to the river itself (and beyond for a distance, of course).
At 2623’, the wet trail ends and Tom Creek flows underneath the trail.
At 2948’, notice the interesting rock formation on the right.
At 3775’, there is a junction with Burnt Mountain Trail on the right.
At 3907’, a Y-junction with the Little River Trail occurs. Take the left fork to the Little River Trail. You can hear the Little River roaring in the distance from this point.
Mid-summer colour. The mountains have some sort of blush year 'round
photo by Bret James Stewart
The Little River Trail portion:
I began measuring again from this point as this is a separate trail.
At 657’, a creek flows underneath the trail.
At 1056’, notice the large dying hemlock to the right surrounded by a nice bed of galax.
At 2206’, a log bridge over what I think is Tom Creek, the same larger creek you crossed at 2623’ on the Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail.
At 2275’, there is a rock face on the left.
At 2807’, there is a junction with Cedar Rock Trail.
At 3620’, a nice creek passes beneath the trail.
At 3940’, a stream over a rock face is emerald with algae, moss, laurel (Rhododendron maximum), ivybush (Kalmia latifolia), and galax. This was, to me, the coolest part of the hike except maybe for the Little River itself.
At 5393’, the river is to the right. It is calm and deep (for a mountain river) here.
At 5940’, a large spring surfaces on the left, flows across the trail, and into the river.
At 6024’, there is a junction with Cedar Rock Trail.
At 6178’, the trail ends at the powerline cut. This is a somewhat anti-climactic finish. The trail may cross the cut as a few feet of a trail continues on the other side of the cut to end at private property. This tiny section of trail is not marked as Little River Trail, so I am assuming the official trail ends at the first point of contact with the cut.
Some of the flora along the trail
photo by Bret James Stewart
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